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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

128               Handel and Music

or Hungarian music we shall get a more genuine article by
going direct to German or Hungarian composers. For the
most part, however, the soundest Englishmen will be stay-
at-homes, in spite of their being much given to summer
flings upon the continent. Whether as writers, therefore,
or as listeners, Englishmen should stick chiefly to Purcell,
Handel, and Sir Arthur Sullivan. True, Handel was not an
Englishman by birth, but no one was ever more thoroughly
English in respect of all the best and most distinguishing
features of Englishmen. As a young man, though Italy
and Germany were open to him, he adopted the country of
Purcell, feeling it, doubtless, to be, as far as he was concerned,
more Saxon than Saxony itself. He chose England; nor
can there be a doubt that he chose it because he believed
it to be the country in which his music had the best chance
of being appreciated. And what does this involve, if not
that England, take it all round, is the most musically minded
country in the world ? That this is so, that it has produced
the finest music the world has known, and is therefore the
finest school of music in the world, cannot be reasonably
disputed.

To the born musician, it is hardly necessary to say, neither
the foregoing remarks nor any others about music, except
those that may be found in every text book, can be of the
smallest use. Handel knew this and no man ever said less
about his art—or did more in it. There are some semi-
apocryphal * rules for tuning the harpsichord that pretend,
with what truth I know not, to hail from him, but here his
theoretical contributions to music begin and end. The rules
begin " In this chord " (the tonic major triad) (t tune the
fifth pretty fiat, and the third considerably too sharp."
There is an absence of fuss about these words which suggests
Handel himself.

The written and spoken words of great painters or musicians
who can talk or write is seldom lasting—artists are a dumb
inarticulate folk, whose speech is in their hands not in their

* Twelve Voluntaries and Fugues for the Organ or Harpsichord
with Rules for Tuning. By the celebrated Mr. Handel. Butler had
a copy of this book and gave it to the British Museum (Press
Mark, e. 1089). We showed the rules to Rockstro, who said they were
very interesting and probably authentic ; they would tune the in-
strument in orie of the mean ton.e temperaments.